Andrej Kiska, the president of the Republic of Slovakia, visited Benedictine University this past Thursday, September 27. Kiska gave a speech to the selected members who were allowed into Goodwin Auditorium.
“The reason he was at Benedictine was that Benedictine’s roots are Czech and Slovak. The monks that founded this college in 1887 had to do with Czech and Slovak immigrants. We have a very strong Czech and Slovak heritage,” according to Slovakian native Dr. Susan Mikula, who is a professor at Benedictine. “There was also a traveling exhibit from the National Czech and Slovak Museum” [located in Kindlon’s Art Gallery on the fourth floor].
The Candor obtained a recording of Kiska’s speech from Dawn Pettis, a BenU student who was allowed into Goodwin Auditorium. The following are a few transcribed parts of Kiska’s speech that was given in English:
- “Let me say big thank you for this University, you did a great job, this University did a lot for Czech and Slovaks.”
- “Migration, I have to touch it. You could here now from our part of the world, no immigrants allowed, [but] I always say it is our moral obligation to help. For people leaving their country because they could be killed.”
- “Our young people are our future. But it’s not only education that is important, I think we also have to speak a lot about values. To also have good people. People who understand empathy and forgiveness.”
- “Thank you for all the job you did for Czech and Slovak. I keep my fingers crossed for many students with fantastic education and strong values in their hearts.”
There were numerous preparations put forward before Kiska’s arrival. The Honorary Consul of the Slovak Republic in Chicago, Rosemary Wisnosky, is also on BenU’s Board of Trustees. Wisnosky worked with Dr. Mikula, A’viands, campus police, and other members of the administration and Secret Service, in order to bring Kiska to campus.
“The security detail was here a few days ago and was mapping out the whole place,” said Raymond Summers, President of the College of Republicans. “I was appointed to install artwork throughout the green room [which he would stay in for a short time] to help create a welcoming experience at BU”.
The auditorium was blocked off for security reasons, and those with access to enter the auditorium went through a security check, according to Dr. Mikula.
Some guests included those from different Slovak organizations, Interim President Charlie Gregory, Chief of University Police Derek Ferguson, and Secret Service, according to Dr. Mikula and Benedictine’s police station.